Propolis is a resinous mixture of different plant exudates collected by honeybees. Currently, propolis is widely used as a food supplement and in folk medicine. We have evaluated 20 Cuban propolis extracts of different chemical types, brown (BCP), red and yellow (YCP), with respect to their in vitro antibacterial, antifungal and antiprotozoal properties. The extracts inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus
and Trichophyton rubrum
at low μg/mL concentrations, whereas they were not active against Escherichia coli
and Candida albicans
. The major activity of the extracts was found against the protozoa Leishmania
, although cytotoxicity against MRC-5 cells was also observed. The BCP-3, YCP-39 and YCP-60 extracts showed the highest activity against P. falciparum
, with 50% of microbial growth (IC50
) values of 0.2 μg/mL. A positive correlation between the biological activity and the chemical composition was observed for YCP extracts. The most promising antimicrobial activity corresponds to YCP subtype B, which contains acetyl triterpenes as the main constituents. The present in vitro study highlights the potential of propolis against protozoa, but further research is needed to increase selectivity towards the parasite. The observed chemical composition-activity relationship of propolis can contribute to the identification of the active principles and standardisation of this bee product.